In Travis County, a charge of Assault Causes Bodily Injury, Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member is typically a felony, while the more generic sounding offense of Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence is typically a Misdemeanor.
Regardless of the degree of offense, in Family Assault cases the relationship between the parties plays a major role in the charge. The assault conduct is essentially the same as a regular Assault, except that parties involved are either in a dating relationship, a family member, or a household member.
At the felony level, Assault Causes Bodily Injury -- whether involving a Dating Relationship, Family Member, or Household Member -- often relies on a prior conviction to be used as an Enhancement (per Chapter 19, or Section 20.03, 20.04, 21.11, 22, or 25.11).
For instance, if a person suffered a conviction in 1999 for Family Assault misdemeanor, and gets arrested for Family Assault again, the new offense will be charged as a Felony. That's because the prior 1999 case is being used to enhance the new case. This is even possible for old family assault cases that resulted in Deferred Adjudication -- even if dismissed after completion of probation! There are some exceptions, such as the date of the prior, so it's important to have an attorney review any priors in detail. Often, this offense will be charged as 'Assault Causes Bodily Injury Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member Previous Conviction.'
Below we'll explore each subsection of Family Assault: Dating Relationship, Family Member, and Household Member. You can read the specific Assault Statute below, as well as the Punishments for Assault
The starting point in Assault Family Violence cases is to explore what type of relationship the prosecutor is using to label the Assault a Family Assault. As you'll see, it's more than just family, and can be complex. There are three types, each found in Sections 71.021 - 71.006 of the Family Code:
Sec. 71.0021 of the Family Code defines Dating Relationship within the context of Family Assaults and Protectice Orders. Under this Section, Assault Causes Bodily Injury Dating Relationship (between the aggressor and the alleged victim) is when "there is or has been ... a dating relationship or marriage.
Notice the language includes past relationships, even if the parties are currently not in a dating relationship. Subsection (b) provides more details:
"..."dating relationship" means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of: (1) the length of the relationship; (2) the nature of the relationship; and (3) the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship."
Luckily, subsection (c) includes a possible defense, in that "casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization in a business or social context does not constitute a "dating relationship."
Sec. 71.003 defines "family" and provides details beyond what one might typically consider "family" in an everyday sense. For instance, the code specifically does not require marriage, or that the parties live together. It includes former (divorced) spouses, parents of the same child (again, regardless of marriage or living together), and includes foster parents and children.
The code also includes individuals related by "consanguinity or affinity", which can be found in Sections 573.022 and 573.024, of the Texas Government Code. Those topics are beyond the scope of this article -- but may come into play when prosecutors are relying upon a "Family Member" relationship that is not clear cut.
Sec. 71.005 and 71.006 of the Family Code defines Household and Members of a Household. "Household" means a group of people living together regardless of whether they are related. The people do need to live in the "Same Dwelling," which again provides a possible defense. Lastly, individuals who lived together in the past still fall within Member of a Household, under 71.006.
Loss of Gun Rights and Family Violence Findings
A Conviction of Family Assault, regardless of the additional "finding" by the Judge that family violence occurred, will cause a person to lose the right to buy or possess firearms or ammunition. Regardless of whether a conviction is a misdemeanor or felony, the loss of gun rights occurs at the state and federal level, and can cause serious life-long consequences.
"We went to trial on the charges, twice. First was a mistrial based on juror misconduct. Then, at the second trial, prosecutors dismissed the case on the 2nd day of jury trial. My best decision was hiring Robert Keates." -Michael L.
"Prosecutors wanted probation the entire time, but we held out and set the case for trial. They dismissed on the morning before trial was to start. I trusted Robert and the right outcome happened. Robert was dedicated and knew what to do, and when." -Louie C.
In this article, we've been discussing mainly Family Assault charged at the Felony level, especially if there is a prior conviction of Assault. Although the Misdemeanor offense of Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence. also relies heavily on a Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member.
But there are other types of Assault. The most basic assaultive offense, Assault, is one that does not involve a specific relationship between the parties. A classic example of Assault would be a bar fight between strangers.
Lastly, if there is the allegation of a person using thier hands on the other person's throat, the case is enhanced to a 3rd Degree Felony, as Assault Family Member Household Member, Impede Breath Circulation. This charge is also known as Assault Intentionally or Recklessly Impede Breath Circulation or merely, Assault by Strangulation.
A Full List of Assault Offenses can be found below, or by clicking Assault Offenses in Texas.
Felony Family Assault: Dating Relationship, Family Member, and Household Member cases are among the more difficult to obtain a personal bond. In Travis County, Judges' commonly need to hear from the alleged victim prior to agreeing to release -- and even then, Judges' frequently add bond conditions such as a GPS Ankle Monitor, Electronic House Monitor, and even alcohol and drug testing.
To make things more difficult, in 2020, Governor Abbot's Covid related Governor's Orders made it more difficult for a person to get a Personal Bond, if that person had a past assault conviction on their record, or if the current charge was a assault.
Sometimes an officer will file arrest warrant, which will require a Walkthrough to clear the Arrest Warrant. Doing a Walkthrough quickly is important, because most of the time a person does not go into the jail during the surrender process. Call us for more details if you have an Active Travis County Arrest Warrant.
Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to read more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.
Although downplayed by the courts and prosecutors, some alleged assaults are fabricated or exaggerated, in an effort to gain advantage in a divorce, custody battle, or family law case. Likewise, immigration and asylum laws have increased the motive and benefit for false claims. A individual may be able to gain legal status or citizenship if found to be the victim of domestic violence.
While the enacted laws above were legislated with noble intentions, unscrupulous individuals can take advantage for their own gain. For these reasons, Assault Causes Bodily Injury - Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member cases can involve hotly contested legal litigation.
For instance, the Texas Family Code yields the spouse who is a victim of Family Assault several benefits when dividing marital property, custody of children, and spousal support. In some situations, the spouse who is a claimed victim of Assault Causes Bodily Injury - Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member can even waive the normal 60 day waiting period for divorce. These benefits do not require a family violence conviction or finding -- the accusation and pending case or protective order are enough to trigger the demands in a family law filing.
If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.
Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Assault Causes Bodily Injury - Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates. No Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we are the right Law Firm for you, and give you a quote. Be sure to check out Keates Law Firm's Reviews and also our past cases and Results.
Your goal should be Dismissal for any Assault Causes Bodily Injury - Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member charge. While not every case can be dismissed, often times the goal becomes avoiding jail, or getting a reduced charge, or even getting a favorable probation with a possible dismissal at the end, called Deferred Adjudication. If dismissed, a person can later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.
Typically in a Assault Causes Bodily Injury - Dating Relationship, Family Member, Household Member case, the court will issue an emergency protective order between the accused and the alleged victim. Violation of a Court Order may result in additional criminal charges filed. This will make it very difficult if the accused has to leave his or her home. A protective order can also be sought by the alleged victim, and if violated, can causing additional charges to be filed. The alleged victim is not prohibited from contacting the defendant after a protective order is issued, but if the defendant responds, he or she may be charged with Violation of a Protective Order.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person: (1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse; (2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person's spouse; or (3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
(2) a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code, if: (A) it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense under this chapter, Chapter 19, or Section 20.03, 20.04, 21.11, or 25.11 against a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code; or (B) the offense is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person's throat or neck or by blocking the person's nose or mouth;
Assault Causes Bodily Injury Dating, Family, Household Member case can be either Misdemeanors or felonies. Often times, the penalties for family assault or domestic violence are harsher than would be normal for a standard assault. Domestic Violence offenses can often lead to jail time and a temporary or permanent loss of parental rights. There may also be a loss of Firearm Rights, and individuals on Probation will need to surrender all registered (and unregistered) firearms.
|Level of Offense||Punishment|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines|
|Class A Misdemeanor||Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines|
|State jail felony||180 days to 2 years in a state jail, and/or no more than $10,000 fines|
|3rd Degree Felony||2-10 Years in Prison, and/or no more than $10,000 fines|
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